back to article Tumblr resorts to AI in attempt to scrub itself clean from filth

Tumblr is hoping to automatically cleanse its social media platform of explicit pornographic content, genitals and female nipples, by using machine learning algorithms. Jeff D’Onofrio, Tumblr's CEO, announced it would be rolling out a system to flag content uploaded to the site, as well as removing existing smut, from 17 …

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  1. vir Silver badge

    Spare A Thought

    For the "real, live humans" who will have to deal with the onslaught of false positives from the 32 million Tumblr posts per day. From the examples, it looks like there could be quite a few!

    1. Chozo

      Re: Spare A Thought

      Indeed spare a thought. Places such as chess.com with 20+ million users employ full time staff just to keep the smutty avatars under control.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Spare A Thought

      "For the "real, live humans" who will have to deal with the onslaught of false positives from the 32 million Tumblr posts per day"

      It's OK, they have plan - in 2 months time there'll only be 3 posts a day on Tumblr, so they'll have planty of staff for performing their censorship duties.

      This will turn out fine for them, I mean look how well AOL and Yahoo! are doing.

      Erm...

      1. Avatar of They Silver badge
        FAIL

        Re: Spare A Thought

        There is a very nice post on Tumblr about why this is happening, possibly a fire yard sale and a clean up act to hook in investors. So it may well go the way of Yahoo.

        1. Crazy Operations Guy

          Re: Spare A Thought

          "may well go the way of Yahoo."

          Well, tumblr used to be part of Yahoo until 2017 when it was spun off into its own subsidiary of Verizon.

        2. ds6 Bronze badge
          Coat

          Re: Spare A Thought

          Mind sharing that link to the Tumblr article? Or is it too scandalous for mortal eyes?

  2. Garymrrsn

    Oh What...

    ...a tangled mess we make

    when our profits are at stake.

  3. Bush_rat

    Let the Prisoners go Free!

    Either ban all nipples or allow all nipples! Viva la Nip! I never understood the fear of the feminine nipple myself. Also Tumblr has opened a can of worms it cannot possibly deal with. Tumblr is infamous for obscure subculture, and not all of its pr0n is obviously pr0n.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      Feminine nipples are no threat when being cut off or sucked.

    2. stiine

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      Oh, yes it is....but you can only recognise it if you are an adept.

    3. imanidiot Silver badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      This is the US we're talking about where puritanism still reigns supreme. Female nipples will turn women gay at the slightest glimpse and even the mere hint of an aureole will turn men into depraved sex fiends who spend their days tugging their bit and performing depraved acts with hookers.

      1. Barry Rueger Silver badge

        But I'm Canadian!

        Many years ago a woman named Gwen Jacobs fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to walk topless on Canadian streets during warm summer days.

        She won, enshrining the principle that male and female nipples should be treated equally.

        Will the Tumbler nip-blocker be disabled us?

        1. Baudwalk
          Coat

          Re: But I'm Canadian!

          >>>Many years ago a woman named Gwen Jacobs fought all the way to the Supreme Court for the right to walk topless on Canadian streets during warm summer days.

          She won, enshrining the principle that male and female nipples should be treated equally.<<<<

          Truly, not all heroes wear capes.

      2. Mark 85 Silver badge

        @imanidiot -- Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

        This is the US we're talking about where puritanism still reigns supreme. Female nipples will turn women gay at the slightest glimpse and even the mere hint of an aureole will turn men into depraved sex fiends who spend their days tugging their bit and performing depraved acts with hookers.

        Sounds pretty normal for many places here in the States. You did miss the point about it being the "devils workshop". Also part of the tradition here is: "Those who scream the most about immorality are usually the worst offenders.". Let's see which politician screams first and loudest.

        1. Dazed and Confused Silver badge

          Re: @imanidiot -- Let the Prisoners go Free!

          You did miss the point about it being the "devils workshop".

          Presumably only if there was three of them.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

        "even the mere hint of an aureole will turn men into depraved sex fiends who spend their days tugging their bit and performing depraved acts with hookers."

        Works for me!

    4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

      Re: Let the Prisoners go Free!

      I never understood the fear of the feminine nipple myself

      Well, they're vaguely cylindrical, and generally significantly larger than the male variety. I can see how that might be threatening to certain people who are greatly invested in comparing the sizes of cylindrical body parts.

  4. Phil Kingston Silver badge

    My Tumblr feed is just filth. And I've some fairly niche tastes. So I'll have to find that somewhere else now. Boo.

    1. AMBxx Silver badge
      WTF?

      Don't worry. Looking at the #toosexyfortumblr on Twitter, it looks like it only blocks white flesh! You'll just need go multicultural.

      1. stiine

        Did that already...

        On a different note, is this going to impact the mastectomy survivors page that has the women, from very young and attractive to quite old and not-so-much, some of them nude, breast-less and proud to be alive and female, to the ones dressed as Amazonian single-breasted archers, replete with star-shaped scars on their chest where their breast had been. All of these images are both porn (at least to me) and at the same time a celebration of continued life after the big C...cancer.

        1. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

          "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

          Why? How?

          I'd like to know your rationalisation. Why is non-sexual nudity pornographic?

          The very word derives from the Greek for a prostitute (he pornaia).

          1. Teiwaz Silver badge

            Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

            The very word derives from the Greek for a prostitute (he pornaia).

            Very good, but the general public don't care what the root of a word was or what it used to mean, they'll take your dictionary and beat you over the head with it.

            nude = porn

            in most of the publics mind, because a lot of trouble has been gone to by some vested interests (or just really lazy sloppy journalists mirroring the most common moron mindset - hey who says the internet is the first to hothouse reflect informed opinion back as fact) to purposefully muddle the two.

            You almost might as well try to correct the cracker/hacker mislabel.

            1. #define INFINITY -1 Bronze badge

              @Teiwaz Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              "You almost might as well try to correct the cracker/hacker mislabel."

              Upvoted for the Ken Thompson reference.

            2. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              "Very good, but the general public don't care what the root of a word was or what it used to mean, they'll take your dictionary and beat you over the head with it."

              But over here where we don't have political elected judges, m'lud tends to be well educated and does care.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              > nude = porn .............in most of the publics mind

              Nah, this is a very old fashioned view, any pictures of anything designed to elicit lust/desire/want are porn these days. So on tele they have programs about food porn, cake porn, house porn, hotel porn, car porn, sewing porn etc...

          2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

            Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

            "I'd like to know your rationalisation. Why is non-sexual nudity pornographic?"

            Different strokes for different folks is the answer. Some people get off on the strangest of things that many others would not consider sexual or porn at all. Look what happened when the UK tried to legislate what is meant by porn.

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              Different strokes for different folks

              Grin, any talk about stroking is going to put the conversation on an entirely different track.

              :)

            2. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

              Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

              Rule 34.

              1. Jeffrey Nonken Silver badge

                Re: "All of these images are both porn (at least to me)"

                Also http://flem.keenspot.com/d/20000909.html

  5. spold Bronze badge

    AI = outsourced to China creating new and fulfilling career opportunities

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    But...

    If you take away the p0rn from Tumblr are you just left with MySpace without the content?

    I understand Tumblrs noble ambitions, but they may have misread their market and I suspect their attempts at addressing the underlying issue may have a high failure/success ratio...

    1. Prst. V.Jeltz Silver badge

      Re: But...

      "I understand Tumblrs noble ambitions"

      I dont , even after just now having read their wikipedia page.

      "short form blogging" apparently

      whats that? Whats it for? who uses it?

      I guess im too old

      1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
        Coat

        Re: But...

        ""short form blogging" apparently

        What? Tumblr is Twitter?

    2. Steve McGuinness

      Re: But...

      I've seen people saying "this is the death of Tumblr" in a lot of locations, but its not.

      Myspace dragged its broken carcass around for another 4 or 5 years after people stopped using it, people were convinced it still had value. There's no question someone will be dumb enough to buy Tumblr after a few years and attempt a huge relaunch which will fail because there's nothing it offers that doesnt involve hosting porn.

      It should finally get shut down in 2023

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: But...

      There's plenty of stuff on tumblr that isn't p0rn, but it's often very niche stuff (eg Harry Potter x furry x Mr Blobby fanfic).

      There was also some pretty, erm, specialised, p0rn collections, which are under represented in the commercial realm.

    4. Pirate Dave
      Pirate

      Re: But...

      I always thought Tumblr was basically a soft-porn site masquerading as a blogging platform for moody teens. Seems like if they kick all the pr0n out, they'll be bereft of content. Yeah, like MySpace, but without all the crappy music.

  7. deadlockvictim Silver badge

    Obscenity

    If they are going to go full hog on removing obscene pictures, then they should remove all pictures of firearms too.

    I know that ye Americans still need them in case the British ever invade again, but I think that you are safe for the time being. They have problems of their own that need sorting out first. And the firearms have created more than a few problems for yourselves, as ye may have noticed #AllLivesMatter.

    (And this doesn't earn me downvotes, then nothing will...)

    1. Teiwaz Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: Obscenity is subjective

      Quite right

      What about the gun porn with bikini clad ladies or even beardy blokes in leather jackets or trucker caps and dirty t-shirts cradling huge weaponery

      also unix porn (fun in the 2000s but a little tired now), animal porn (way too much kitty pics is excessive), weird fetishes that don't involve nipples like latex, gimps and strange 'are you my mummy' gas mask things in off putting colours (and smells no doubt were you to encounter such a pervert in person if you find excessive talcum powder off putting).

      this message brought to you by someone who can't 'identify as' anything as there doesn't appear to be a name, label or category for it.

  8. DavCrav Silver badge

    I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the following interesting logic:

    1) App gets banned for hosting child porn.

    2) Tumblr decides to ban female-presented nipples. And not, like, child porn.

    If the only way they can stop child porn is to ban pictures of adults, I think they really shouldn't be in business.

    1. Wayland Bronze badge

      Re: Child porn

      Yes if the problem is child porn then ban child porn. However easier just to ban photos of children since a paedo enjoys all pictures of children.

      1. Teiwaz Silver badge

        Re: Child porn

        Yes if the problem is child porn then ban child porn. However easier just to ban photos of children since a paedo enjoys all pictures of children.

        So do many who would certainly be outraged by being though of in the same way. Women who coo over baby pictures, especially those awful pastel attempts featuring infants dressed up as flowers, and lonely old people who enjoy church pantomimes featuring children not related to them.

        1. MiguelC Silver badge

          Re: Child porn

          Ban! Ban! Ban!

          To err on the safe side, they should ban all images!

          And ban all videos too (don't really know if video is allowed, and didn't care to check)!.

          And ban all text, text can be problematic too.

          Only then they'll have a safe place for all to enjoy.

          1. Charles 9 Silver badge

            Re: Child porn

            Not really. What about the deviance in their own heads?

            1. Boris the Cockroach Silver badge

              Re: Child porn

              Then we need to ban heads!

              To the guillotine with them...

              Wheres the puritian loony icon?

            2. Mark 85 Silver badge

              Re: Child porn

              Not really. What about the deviance in their own heads?

              Define "deviance". What's acceptable in one culture is a death sentence in another.

          2. Evil Auditor Silver badge
            Mushroom

            Re: Child porn

            Ban images, text?

            What kind of beginner are you, MiguelC?

            Ban children! I say. It's the only way to be sure. And in a not so distant future there won't be and kiddy fiddlers. Or anyone else for that matter. Problem solved.

          3. Voyna i Mor Silver badge

            Re: Child porn -To err on the safe side, they should ban all images!

            There's a book that says that. Can't be too careful.

            It's also in favour of killing people who don't agree with its ban on images.

      2. Version 1.0 Silver badge

        Re: Child porn

        "ban photos of children since a paedo enjoys all pictures of children" - and cheese, I know a couple of people who I suspect have odd tendencies but they love cheese - Tumblr needs to ban cheese!

        I don't think that banning anything fixes anything - unless it's the BBC banning a record which will really help sales - who liked David Bowie before the BBC banned Space Oddity?

        1. Omgwtfbbqtime Silver badge

          " who liked David Bowie before the BBC banned Space Oddity?"

          Nope, preferred Funky Moped.

          As Jasper Carrott himself said:

          "Why's it banned? Cos it's crap!"

    2. DougS Silver badge

      People are just assuming Apple's app ban was the reason

      There have been no statements from Tumblr confirming that, so it is just that, an assumption. This would be quite a big change in direction over a ban that lasted only a few days - and if there really was child porn found one that arguably had a good reason.

      Going from "people are putting child porn on our platform" to "we should delete all pictures of topless women" is a pretty big stretch. If Apple was banning all apps with any nudity at all, there would be a LOT of apps up for deletion, so that's obviously not the reason. Maybe Tumblr felt it would be easier to ban everything beyond bikini pics, but then they have to try to draw line for "art" when it comes to photos of naked women. What makes it art, if the picture is black and white?

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